The tender “SPRING PEELS” off producer and songwriter Brotherkenzie’s (aka Nathan Stocker) sophomore album ‘NATHAN’ documents the hopeful side of a messy breakup.
Stream: “SPRING PEELS” – Brotherkenzie
Intimate, hopeful, and yet heartbreaking, Brotherkenzie captures the euphoric feeling of finally ending cyclic behaviors in his second album.
After a nearly two year hiatus, producer and songwriter Nathan Stocker of indie rock band Hippo Campus reintroduced us to his solo project, Brotherkenzie, with his second album NATHAN (released August 2022 via Thirty Tigers). According to Stocker, the album was written at a time when he felt trapped in a number of unhealthy relationships, unable to break the cycle. These ideas are explored throughout the album, but the track “SPRING PEELS” best expresses the feeling of finally cutting the toxicity out of one’s life. The track opens on soft guitar playing, bringing with it the hope and tender intimacy that comes with finding comfort in a relationship. The first verse further plays into this intimacy with Stocker gently commenting on how his love “held his heart for the week.”
say my name, i’ve always wanted you to say it
tongue pressed close against the cheek
brushed red fingertip, sipping on the college way
you held my heart for the week
Then enters the chorus, where Brotherkenzie shatters this image of peace when he sings, “No I can’t be around you anymore, around you anymore, around you anymore / Spring peels shyly around the open door, around the open door, the one I left there for you.” The repetition of the lines gives the listener the impression that this is not his first attempt at leaving this relationship, but maybe this is the first time he truly believes in turning his words into actions.
References to spring and open doors call to mind new opportunities and rebirth, both of which mirror the idea of ending a relationship. The hopeful, gentle guitar plucking from the beginning remains, with a new riff layered on top to simulate the new hope blossoming from finally finding the courage to break the cycle. This new riff also reflects the imagery of hope and rebirth, while adding more feeling to the song.
breaking waves like the cosmic saving grace
had you not drained another ocean just for fun
right window streaming god-infested cloud
through unseen stoplight, i bet it was the sun
Once again, the conversation shifts in the second verse when a new beat is introduced on the word “breaking.” By breaking the beat, Stocker is committing to the breakup. Like the music, his words and actions are pairing up this time, determined to end the cycle that got him here. The descriptions he sings in this verse remain as intimate as the first, but the emotion has shifted. No longer does he yearn for his partner, but rather he focuses on their flaws and the parts of them that never quite meshed with him. Again, this comparison is heard in the instrumentation of the song. The loud, abrupt drum beat doesn’t quite mesh with the soft, melodic guitar riffs. When all three elements combine, they break the hypnotic spell the beginning of the song put us under.
Always pushing things one step further, Stocker goes into a guitar solo, soaring even higher as his hope continues to grow, knowing that this is really the last time. He enters the bridge feeling completely reborn, and he takes a new look at his former relationship. Starting in a near whisper, his voice grows steadily louder with each line, until, almost at a shout, he sings, “Tiptoe on the glass, shattered corners of the past, still bloody, I forgot this part.”
His rising volume reflects how tensions rose in the relationship, something that is hard to notice until it’s too late. Suddenly, he can see that things were never really good. They were walking on eggshells the whole time, afraid of escalating an already delicate situation any further. This final realization carries over to the last chorus and Stocker’s continued repetition of the line, “No I can’t be around you anymore.” Only this time, there is a renewed sense of reassurance with each word that things will be different.
You can listen to “SPRING PEELS” on Brotherkenzie’s second studio album, NATHAN. His third album, BLOODSUCKER, was released on February 14, 2023.
no, i can’t be around you anymore, around you anymore, around you anymore
spring peels shyly around the open door, around the open door
the one i’d left there for you
turning back i couldn’t breathe if you had asked me to
a trouble, sudden change of heart
tip toe on the glass, shattered corners of the past
still bloody, i forgot this part
Stream: “SPRING PEELS” – Brotherkenzie
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© Brit O’Brien
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